Passover is a holiday of symbols. The seder plate and its items serve as a reminder of the Jewish people’s delivery from bondage. And just as we must teach our children the Passover story and remind them that we must work to ensure that all peoples can achieve and enjoy freedom, Bostonians have a lengthy tradition of teaching their children an almost religious devotion to its local sports teams. (Play along with me here, it’s all in fun.)
Let us examine the various items on the seder plate and what they stand for in recent Boston sports history.
- Maror and Chazeret: The bitter herbs symbolize the bitter slavery under which we suffered in Egypt. Traditionally, many people eat horseradish or romaine lettuce. While all cities have endured their share of heartbreak, the bitterness is best captured by the 2003 Red Sox, who suffered a fate arguably worse than slavery: blowing a 3-run lead to the hated New York Yankees just outs away from a World Series berth. Fortunately they were delivered from baseball bondage the following year with God’s intervention, and thanks to some timely hits from David Ortiz (Papi HaGadol).
- Charoset: A sweet, brown food symbolizing the mortar used by the Jews to build while under slavery. While several recipes exist, the most common one includes nuts, apples, cinnamon, and red wine. The charoset of the Boston sports scene would be the late-round draft picks of the New England Patriots in the Bill Belichick administration. Despite drafting at the end of the first round every year, Boston’s evil genius, aided for many years by Scott Pioli, succeeded in finding building blocks late in the draft every year, none bigger than 6th round pick and future Hall of Famer, quarterback Tom Brady. Like the proverbial bricks created by the slaves in Egypt, the many players discovered over the last 10+ years have proven to be a foundation which has been both sweet and (Troy) brown.
- Karpas: Representing the springtime, karpas is a green vegetable dipped into salt water to remind us of the bitter tears of slavery. Karpas brings us a rebirth just as each April brings dreams of pennants. With the arrival of spring, anything is possible as we say goodbye to the harsh winter. Red Sox fans can only hope that the harsh winter of 2011 has been put to rest and that 2012 will bring new hope (without the beer and fried chicken of last September).
- Zeroa: Translated as the “shank bone”, the zeroa represents the Passover sacrifice offered to God in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The sacrifice was the Jews’ ultimate thank you to God. Just as we thank our Creator, Celtics fans thank their team and its ownership for its current run of success and the 2008 NBA title, which led to the sacrifice of the current season and the short-term future of the franchise.
- Baytza: A roasted egg symbolizes the korban chagiga (festival sacrifice), also offered in the Temple. The first thing traditionally given to mourners after a funeral, the egg reminds us of the Temple’s destruction. So much sadness on the Seder plate! While we hope that the Boston sports scene will not be destroyed, it is hard not to wonder if we will ever see a run of glory like the decade culminating in the Bruins’ Stanley Cup victory last year. 7 titles in 10 years? Even Herod, the builder of the Second Temple, couldn’t have pulled that off.
As we thank God for our liberation from slavery, may there be no end in sight to our freedom. And, ok, while admittedly less important, may Boston enjoy many more years of championships which we can share with our children for generations to come.
Next year in Fenway!
Photograph used under Creative Commons license from Flickr user NMinTO.
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